London Town (Wings song)

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"London Town"
Wings LTsingle Spain.jpg
Spanish picture sleeve
Single by Wings
from the album London Town
B-side"I'm Carrying"
Released26 August 1978
Format7"
RecordedFebruary – March 1977
GenreSoft rock
Length4:10
LabelParlophone/EMI (UK)
Capitol (US)
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Paul McCartney
Wings singles chronology
"I've Had Enough"
(1978)
"London Town"
(1978)
"Goodnight Tonight"
(1979)
Alternate cover
German picture sleeve
German picture sleeve

"London Town" is the title and opener track from Wings' 1978 album London Town. It was the third of three single releases from the LP, reaching No. 39 in the US, No. 43 in Canada and No. 60 in the UK. It also reached No. 17 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in the US.

Writing and recording[edit]

Paul McCartney and Denny Laine began writing "London Town" in Perth, Australia, in late 1975 during the Wings Over the World tour, but they completed it later in Scotland.[1][2] The recording features a lead vocal by Paul McCartney and backing vocals by Linda McCartney and Laine.[1] It was one of the first songs recorded for the London Town album, prior to the departures of Joe English and Jimmy McCulloch, who play drums and guitar, respectively, on the track.[1] Laine also plays guitar, Paul McCartney plays bass guitar and Linda McCartney plays keyboards.[1]

Lyrics and music[edit]

The lyrics of "London Town" describe "ordinary people and everyday life in London.[3] According to Beatles biographer John Blaney, it "presents a romanticized view of London; part reportage and part fantasy."[1] Blaney elaborates that it combines "idealisation with acute observations of everyday street life."[1] Music professor Vincent Benitez compares the effect of "quixotic" presentation of the people of London with that of the McCartney penned Beatle song "Penny Lane."[2] Benitez notes a theme of loneliness throughout the lyrics, as the singer feels alienated from the Londoners he describes.[2]

"London Town" is a soft rock song.[2] It is in the key of E major.[2] The introduction to the song obscures the tonic by beginning phrases in different keys, but the key of E major is established at the end of the introduction and is then used to begin the first verse.[2] The fourth and final verse is also based on the key of E major but the middle two verses begin and end on the key of A major, which is the subdominant of E major.[2] Benitez notes that besides using the same key, verses 1 and 4 are also linked in that they describe the singer meeting colorful Londoners and they end with the phrase "Silver rain was falling down/Upon the dirty ground of London Town."[2] Besides sharing a key, verses 2 and 3 share a more pessimistic viewpoint—the singer's frustration at his inability meet ordinary people and the emptiness felt by an unemployed actor.[2] These two middle verses also end with the phrase "Well, I don't know."[2]

The two bridges and the outro are also in A major.[2] Benitez interprets the tension between the keys of E major and A major throughout the song as representing the "uncertainty felt by the protagonist, who is unsure about where to go in London."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Author Chris Ingham praised "London Town" as one of the best tracks on the album, stating that it was "full of the most sensitive pop synthesizer touches".[4] McCartney biographer Peter Ames Carlin called it "a pleasantly spaced-out perspective on city life".[5] Tom Waseleski of the Beaver County Times recognised the song as having "more substance" than other of McCartney's soft rock tracks.[6] Henry McNulty of the Hartford Courant praised it for its "fine, clear harmonies" and "sprightly, inventive melody," recognizing it as one of the few decent songs on the album (along with the other two singles).[7] Author Tim Riley calls it "willfully sulky".[8] Beatles biographers Roy Carr and Tony Tyler regard "London Town" as an "anachronism", with several Beatle-esque touches, including opening chords that sound like "Blackbird" and a chord progression similar to that in "The Fool on the Hill".[9] Paul Sexton of udiscovermusic.com described it as a "laid-back, beautifully-harmonised and reflective piece about the British capital."[10]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
position
UK [11] 60
Canada [12] 43
US Billboard Hot 100[13] 39
US Easy Listening[14] 17

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone: a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 123–124. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Benitez, Vincent P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
  3. ^ Grove, Martin A. (1978). Paul McCartney: Beatle with Wings!. Manor Books. p. 86. ISBN 0532-171918.
  4. ^ Ingham, C. (2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles (3rd ed.). Penguin. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-4053-8445-2.
  5. ^ Carlin, P.A. (2010). Paul McCartney: A Life. Touchstone. p. 249. ISBN 1-4165-6210-9.
  6. ^ Waseleski, T. (12 April 1978). "Paul McCartney: His Return to Basics is Perfect". Beaver County Times. p. B-14. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  7. ^ McNulty, Henry (23 April 1978). "Schizoid 'London Town'". Hartford Courant. p. 6G. Retrieved 2018-12-22 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Riley, T. (2002). Tell Me Why: The Beatles: Album By Album, Song By Song, The Sixties And After. Da Capo. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-306-81120-3.
  9. ^ Carr, Roy & Tyler, Tony (1981). The Beatles: An Illustrated Record. Harmony Books. p. 125. ISBN 0-517-54493-8.
  10. ^ Sexton, Paul (31 March 2019). "In 1978, There Were Wings Over London". udiscovermusic.com. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  11. ^ "Official Charts: Wings". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  12. ^ "RPM 100 Singles". Library and Archives Canada. 28 October 1978. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  13. ^ "WIngs singles". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 157.

External links[edit]